SlayStation queen Velvet Caveat explains why gaming and drag are a perfect match

SlayStation queen Velvet Caveat explains why gaming and drag are a perfect match
SlayStation stuns crowd with Pokémon themed Master Ball

If there’s a better way to spend a Friday night than watching stunning drag queens and kings decked out as Pokémon characters then we’d very much like to hear it. And that’s precisely what performer Velvet Caveat and her costume-clad troop delivered to hundreds of delighted punters at London’s Clapham Grand last month.

Velvet staged the elaborate show as part of her “SlayStation” night – a monthly celebration of two unlikely bedfellows: gaming and drag.

Well, actually, they aren’t unlikely at all – the two make perfect sense together, she told indy100. Both are about creativity and confidence, and have allowed her to present herself to others as the person she truly is.

“Video games have always been really important to me as a queer person, as a trans person, because they were how I got to express myself when I was a kid,” she explained.

Sign up for our free Indy100 weekly newsletter

Velvet said it was a huge relief to be able to play online as a woman, with her fellow gamers unaware of the challenges she faced in her personal life.

“At school, I was ostracised and bullied quite a lot because I was so feminine and I was openly queer from quite a young age, so I made a lot of friends through gaming communities, forums and stuff,” she said.

Velvet noted that she and her online peers would begin by discussing their favourite games before discovering that many of them were in similar positions.

She met her first-ever trans friend on a web forum, which was an eye-opener given that there weren’t many openly LGBTQ+ people at her school in an isolated village in Yorkshire.

In other words, “gaming offered me a way to connect to people like me and feel like I could present who I actually felt I was,” she said, adding: “And I think that resonates with a lot of queer people.”

Velvet said that both gaming and drag had played an important role in her personal journeyVelvet Caveat/Instagram

That’s not to say that this online world is a wholly welcoming and supportive place, as Velvet has experienced firsthand.

She said that a recent article about her, published by the website Kotaku, led to a painful reminder of “how toxic a lot of the gaming community is”. Not because of the story itself, which was positive, but because of the response it received.

“Some of the comments were horrendous and yet these all people have cute little characters as their avatars. And it’s like, would you dare say that to me in real life? I don't think you would.”

However, Velvet noted, this was an unfortunate but inevitable byproduct of what lies at gaming’s core: “The ability to transcend who you actually are and deposit yourself somewhere else”.

“The positive side of this is that if you’re someone who can’t express yourself fully, it's a great medium for you to do that,” she said. “But it also means it's a great tool if you want to spew some things that you probably wouldn't be able to if you didn't have this mask.”

Still, Velvet is adamant that these communities have always been more of a help than a hindrance to her personal growth, and she’s not the only drag artist to reveal a passion for gaming.

Trixie Mattel streams on Twitch, there are some queens who do cosplay stuff, and Aquaria (who won season 10 of RuPaul’s Drag Race) loves Pokémon and is always doing Pokémon stuff." What's more, Kim Chi and Dakota Schiffer – also stars of Drag Race – were special guests at her big SlayStation event.

“I think that's all testament to how a lot of these video games helped the nerdy, ostracised child. And I think the queer child is often the ostracised one.”


TALK ABOUT LEGENDARY! Thank you ALL for turning it! Follow us and our performers: @dakota @Velvet @Kim Chi @Loose Willis @Miss Terri Boxx thank you @theclaphamgrand for having us!! ❤️‍🔥 #pokemoncosplay #pokemondrag #pokemon #drag #dragshow #pokemonscarletviolet #pokemonanime #togepi #dakotaschiffer #ironvaliant #ditto #pikachu #gothita #alakazam #gengar #gyarados #teamrocket #teamrocketcosplay #slay

Velvet began putting on her SlayStation shows at the end of 2021 after deciding to carve out her own niche in London’s performance scene; with each night presenting audiences with a specific gaming theme, from fantasy to racing.

She started very modestly, in a venue that could hold 80 people, before growing it into a regular slot at the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club in east London for an audience of 300 people.

Realising the elaborate displays were striking a chord with punters, she decided to go big and, in January this year, booked out the 1,250-capacity Clapham Grand.

So why Pokémon rather than something more generic for her grand “Master Ball”?

“I wanted to do something much more universal,” she said. “Pokémon is the biggest franchise in the world so I was like, well that's perfect then.

“Because even if you're not necessarily someone who would identify as a gamer you probably know what Pokémon is or you might have seen the TV show or played the card game as a kid. I knew it would have that nostalgic value because it was such a big part of so many people's childhoods.”

The resulting show was a dazzling display of perfectly lip-synched pop hits performed by the likes of Team Rocket and Ash Ketchum, plus a duet between Misty and a Gyarados. Oh, and water spurted out of the Gyarados’s mouth by way of a specially concealed douche just to make it a truly unforgettable night.


Visit TikTok to discover videos!

Fortunately, the hard work of Velvet, her co-host Loose Willis and their fellow performers paid off.

“The response has really been everything I hoped for and more,” Velvet said. “We went viral on TikTok for a few videos and Aquaria, who I mentioned before, commented on one of my own personal videos. She’s always been a big inspiration to me so that was really lovely.”

“It was also the first show that my mum and dad have actually been to so that was a very affirming moment for me,” she added.

“And it showed that this is something people really like and proved to me that yes, we contend with these other big shows with huge names and give people a really amazing experience.”

So what’s next for SlayStation?

Well, most imminently, another night in Bethnal Green – this one with “love” as its theme in a nod to Valentine’s Day. You can buy tickets for the event, which is taking place on Friday (17 February) and is titled ‘Doki Doki Illiterature Club’, here.

Beyond that, Velvet is keen to host two bigger events – on the scale of the Master Ball or larger – every year, and she’s currently plotting her next idea.

“A lot of people online have been asking for Final Fantasy as our next big show, including Joe Black from RuPaul's Drag Race, season two,” she said. Indeed, Black was so enthusiastic that he sent her the following tweet:

“So I guess watch this space,” Velvet added. “We'll see what happens next.”

But, she continued: “Whatever it is, I'm very excited and can't wait to play around with it. The Master Ball was only our first show on that scale, so it can only get better.”

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 ranking.

The Conversation (0)